Guest Column - May 2010
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Aquatic Training

Trends in Aquatic Training
The Transition to E-Learning

By Alex Antoniou, Ph.D., and Thomas M. LachockI, Ph.D.

s computer use has become commonplace in the workforce, there has been a shift in how people learn, both in and out of the workplace. E-learning has become an attractive proposition as the cost of instructor-led training has risen and the advent of effective computer training has become less expensive. The popularity of e-learning also has benefited from the ever-increasing expense associated with travel, and the loss of productivity when people are away from their work to attend a class.

For aquatic professionals, it's no different. Modern recreational facilities require their staff and contractors to be trained, creating better value for their customers by bringing them a healthy and safe water environment. Recreational facilities must manage risk. Trained operators, managers and contractors are the best defense against accidents and injury since they can recommend and implement engineering controls or procedures, and thus, can implement appropriate warnings to prevent injuries or illness among guests and employees.

And so, with more required aquatic training comes the need for more education. Online training has been the most significant trend in training aquatic professionals. As younger professionals are entering the field and older professionals are adopting computers, the pool and spa industry, in turn, has become more computer savvy. As a result, online training in this industry is becoming a more popular choice. And, several innovative online delivery methods are beginning to make education more accessible. Fortunately, online training is evolving beyond more ordinary tools like e-textbooks or PowerPoint slides online.

The structure and features of online learning have made it more effective for students. Features such as interactive exercises, narration, video demonstrations, exercises, quizzes and photos are becoming more common. As a result, online students typically learn faster and retain information for a longer period of time than they would in a traditional classroom setting. Unlike classroom courses, students are able to refer back to the online content.

Online learning is ideal when combined with instructor interactions. The instructor can interact with the student in a classroom, via e-mail, on the telephone or through video conferencing. The online training allows busy professionals to set their own pace, while the instructor time allows the student to reinforce what he or she has learned, have questions answered and participate in hands-on skills training.

Aquatic business owners, managers and supervisors are looking for convenient and inexpensive ways to become educated. Management training has not always been available or easy to deliver. This is especially true when trying to comply with the training required by federal government. In the past, training for managers was mostly through on-the-job training, college courses or at industry trade shows. While on-the-job training can be effective, it takes time, and certain critical information can be missed. College courses are thorough, but often expensive. Fortunately, many management skills can be taught online.